HONG KONG—Casino revenue in Macau climbed 13.5 percent last year to a record $38 billion, as the Asian gambling hub reinforced its position as the world’s biggest gambling market.
Gross revenue from Macau’s 35 casinos also hit a monthly record in December, rising 20 percent to 28.2 billion Macau patacas ($3.5 billion), according to data posted on the gaming regulator’s website on Wednesday.
But gambling revenue growth eased off in 2012 from the year before, when it rocketed 42 percent to $33.5 billion, as China’s economy slowed and wealthy mainland Chinese gamblers held back amid fears about a crackdown on corruption.
Chinese gamblers account for the bulk of visitors to Macau, a former Portuguese colony that returned to Chinese control in 1999. The semiautonomous region, an hour by ferry west of Hong Kong, is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal.
Despite the moderating growth, casino operators such as Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International have pushed ahead with expansion plans.
In recent months, MGM has said it plans to build a $2.5-billion casino resort, its second in Macau, while Sands said it plans a Parisian-themed resort that would be its fourth.
Macau’s economy has boomed since it ended a four-decade casino monopoly in 2002. Gambling revenue there has now swept far past Las Vegas, where growth has been flat in recent years because of the economy. Las Vegas revenue totaled $6.1 billion in 2011.